March, 2005

G’day! May your day be blessed! Today, God saw fit to bless me with two squashed fingers. I have no idea how it could be a blessing, but knowing God, it couldn’t be otherwise. But strike! It hurt. : ) All over town are advertisements from companies wanting to buy hair. Pity they don’t want nails, because I am soon going to have two spare ones!

For Australia Day, we invited the Australians we know in Ukraine to visit. We went down to the river and shovelled the snow off a section of ice for a cricket pitch and had a bit of a game. Then several of us took a dip in a hole we cut out of the ice. Here is a photo of Jesse jumping in. He loved it!

We are doing well.

It’s hard to believe this weekend is time change! The months have simply flown by since we changed our watches back! I am ready for greenness and other colours, and find these early spring days which are mostly sunless very dreary.

I have been so blessed by the story of Nehemiah recently. How closely that story parallels with painful experiences in our lives and the ways we try to cope with them. God called Nehemiah’s attention to a problem (the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem). Nehemiah didn’t know how to go about remedying it, until the king gave him his blessing and sent him on his way. When he arrived at Jerusalem, he went out at night to survey the problem before he did anything else. I think sometimes I like to just tackle the problem, whatever it might be, without taking time to survey it first. He then enlisted the help of others, faced opposition (He was falsely accused of doing the work on the walls without the king’s approval. So often, Satan says, “What is the fuss about? There is no need to stir everything up,” when in reality, God is at work and wants us to take that step.) Eventually he worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. In the end, the wall was rebuilt! It is impossible to sum up everything in a paragraph! I love God’s Word. It truly is alive and active, sharper than a two-edged sword.

Marie fell and seriously broke one of her front teeth. The nerve is totally exposed, but the dentist here says there is nothing they can do till she is twelve. She is eight now, so that is a long, painful wait. You can pray for her tooth - that sounds odd! =) I saw this beautiful sign on the end of her bed saying, “Jesus loves me because He made me.” I was so touched. Truly our wholeness and identity can only be found in the love of God.

God is at work and it is a delight to serve Him. Sometimes when I feel tired, I imagine His arms of love held out to me and myself climbing onto His lap to rest. I do not know what my life would be like without Him. I don’t think it would be life. I am so grateful for His love.

The church is experiencing some interesting developments. On Sunday, two young men (college students) wanted to talk about repenting for salvation. One has made some sort of commitment in the past, yet has fallen away. The other (who you maybe prayed for in January – pictured) decided two weeks ago to follow Jesus, yet wanted to hear more about what it meant to repent and what he was meant to do now. Today, (Tuesday) another man is coming to talk about having God in his life. A young lady has been asking about how to become a Christian. And I feel sure that a couple of other people who have been hearing us speak about Jesus and seeing our lives are on the verge of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. When I sit back and start remembering what has taken place the last week, it seems as if the Holy Spirit has been a lot more active than usual. May He continue to work and may it all snowball!

A couple of weeks ago, Altug, a Turk, got baptized. He became a Christian in Turkey about six months ago and came up to Ukraine to spend some time with a young lady who considers us her family and whom he met last year. We had them stay here for a few nights and they hope to fellowship with us when they get back from Turkey. It is a dramatic thing for a Muslim to become a Christian and Altug is definitely swimming against the tide of his countrymen who serve a false god. Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time swimming around in this cold pool. 10 seconds was all we spent in these frigid waters. Exhilarating baptism!

Work continues at Cheryl’s place purchased early in the New Year. Kolya and Alyosha are the main workers there and they are doing a good job. I was there this morning for devotions with them and felt again the monstrous job before us. There is a lot of work still to be done. The positive is that there is work for the brothers.

The strawberries are still under snow. Now that Gaven has arrived (last week) to manage the setting up of the farm and running of the business, we will be looking for workers to help in the planting of this year’s crop. We hope to plant over 10,000 plants beginning early April. Once the snow melts, we’ll be interested to see how much of last year’s crop has survived. It has been a long and cold winter. We are still in talks with the owner of a property nearby. The asking price has been about US$4000. Hopefully, the seller will think of something she needs the money for and agree to sell. We have another meeting set up for next week.

We held a football tournament a couple of weeks ago. “Without a hitch” is a good way to describe how it went. Jono did the organizing of it all as well as the ref-ing and about 40 guys had a good time together. I actually played goal-keeper for a team and learned that nothing has changed over the last years in level of skill. We lost our three games.

Last month, we held two seminars – one for guys and the other for ladies. The general thrust was sexual purity. About 40 guys came to the men’s seminar and just drank in what was being taught. It was a wonderful time together and both the guys and ladies are still talking about the affect it had on their lives. Praise the Lord. It doesn’t need to be said that Satan’s demons have been quite happy with the way the morals of Christians have been heading the last 30 years. The guys attending didn’t grow up in Christian homes and so didn’t have fathers who taught them God’s standards. It was a great day!

Andrei, Nazar and Yura surprised us by a 1:00am visit recently. They are serving in the army and were given 12 hours leave to go home. Once I’d woken up enough to recognize that we weren’t being attacked, neither was it the police, I was delighted to see them! Andrei and Yura are twins. I can envision both of them in the kingdom of God sometime in the future. May God have mercy.

A few days later…

We had a cold snap last night. We nearly didn’t make it back from Kiev. I’d gone to help Gaven purchase a vehicle. It was a bit of a mess actually. The bank in Kiev said that they couldn’t give Gaven any money because his bank refused the request for a withdrawal. We figured that it must have been something to do with the limit he has set on his card. So we called the owner of the vehicle and apologised for the delay letting him know we expected to be able to sort out the problem within 24 hours. Came home and called the bank only to learn that about $20,000 HAD BEEN WITHDRAWN from the account! We made some phone calls quickly and managed to get on to the right people. We then drove back and made it just before they had to close. With many an apology, they handed over the money. Relief. But the trip home on extremely icy roads was decidedly treacherous. On one corner, we lost traction and very nearly kept on going into a pond. This morning, we couldn’t get up our hill and had to give up the attempt. Actually, after about 30 minutes of trying, we finally managed to make it only to have reverse gear finally give up the ghost. (Going to be a challenge trying to get it fixed!)

We still have pretty close contact with the church family in Kaharlyk. They seem to be doing well. Wayne, Sergei and I (pictured) along with a few other young people travelled to Kaharlyk seven years ago with the view to sharing the gospel with people there and planting a church. The church was given some money to purchase a building which has been a big blessing for them. About 50 people fellowship regularly and Wayne is serving them diligently. I have the privilege of seeing Sergei several times a week as he and Tanya have chosen to live here in Rzhishchiv and fellowship with us. Sergei and Tanya have a beautiful and deep love for the Lord and for His people. Just more praise to our God!

Three days later…

What a night we had yesterday! I took a large truck to Kiev to pick up building supplies for Cheryl’s place. We loaded up and came into a snow storm on the way home. We just made it into Rzhishchiv before the hills became impassable. And we still had one hill to go to get to Cheryl’s. We made it half-way up before we couldn’t go any further and began sliding backwards on the ice with hand-brake on. Over 30 meters we slid until the long trailer found the gutter and straightened – relief! We gave up on that hill and tried the other one. We made it further this time which was worse, because we then slid backwards further. We jack knifed the cab still sliding, expecting to have it roll any second. When we finally stopped (totally blocking traffic), I praised the Lord. The driver was a bit too shook up to agree with me, but I didn’t care. After much mucking around with sand and chocks, we finally made it up the hill and over to Cheryl’s. We unloaded the gyp-rock and batons in the storm for the first hour before it abated. What an experience.

We have parliamentary elections tomorrow. Yanukovich, the one who was behind the rigged election two years ago before the Orange Revolution, is leading the polls. His party is expected to win. The coalition against him has fragmented. Bottom line… unless something surprising happens, we look set for a strong pro-Russian parliament. Very few of the country’s believers will be voting for Yanukovich (pro-Russian). God’s will be done.

Well… here’s wishing you an enjoyable week of close fellowship with your Maker and Saviour! He is WORTHY of glory and honour for He has done some beautiful things in our lives. I pray that He will find you desperate to have His hand in and on your life making you into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Much love,

Daniel & Priscilla

Jesse, Mimi, Angie, and Elle